Park to get new, improved PEPs
The Hudson River Park will have fewer but better trained Park Enforcement Patrol officers this season. The Hudson River Park Trusts board of directors voted last Thursday to renew the Trusts contract with the Parks Department for officers to patrol the 5-mile-long West Side waterfront park. The board approved a one-year, $2.1 million contract for the officers.
The PEPs, as they are known, have provided security for the park since 1999. In response to community complaints about overzealousness by the PEPs from various park users, including dog walkers, bikers and gays, the Trust last year convened a committee, headed by board of directors member Julie Nadel, to look into the officers training and comportment. The end product was a supplemental sensitivity training course the Trust now offers PEPs assigned to Hudson River Park.
In another change, the Trust this year will contract for 11 full-time PEPs, as opposed to 22 seasonal officers, which was the parks complement for the past year.
Although Fishman said, Were decreasing by 50 percent in terms of bodies, she noted that seasonal officers need to call full-time officers for assistance in many situations, including for arrests and ticket writing.
The [full-time] officer will be shielded a sworn peace officer, who can write summonses and make arrests. A seasonal officer has a badge, but cant do this, explained Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, a Trust board member.
The officers work in the park in three, 8-hour shifts.
Franz Leichter, another Trust board member, expressed concern that the park be sufficiently covered by security officers.
Benepe said the caliber of PEPs has been improving.
A concerted effort has been made to raise the quality of the PEP officers, Benepe said. All of them now are virtually college graduates.
Nadel voiced her approval of the switch over to all full-time PEPs, saying, Theyll be trained, and theyll be on top of it.